ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

May 23 2016

Faced with aggressive attacks on women's reproductive rights, various feminist activists, initiatives and organisations from the cities across Croatia have joined forces to organize a protest „In defence of freedom of choice“, which was initiated by Women’s Network of Croatia. Protest was held on Saturday, May 21st in Zagreb's downtown, gathering around 500 protesters, as a reaction to the so called first national „March for life“ that was announced as “celebration of life, family and Croatia” with the main aim at criminalisation of abortion. The counter protest was organized in the park next to the street where marchers were passing by. Approximately 7.000 participants, family members of all generations, attended this march which is a part of the global movement of radical catholic conservatives and fundamentalist that gathered 80.000 participants in Slovakia and 30.000 participants in Italy last year. Today’s March imposed the false picture of happy and perfect Croatian Catholic family and state while its real purpose was to drastically restrict fundamental women’s rights. 

Željka Markić, organizer of the first referendum against marriage equality in Croatia (2013) was one of the organizers of this march financially supported by the City of Zagreb and mobilized by Catholic Church. The spouse of the new Croatian Prime Minister Sanja Orešković also participated in the first rows of the march against Croatian law on free abortion right. She stated that "any reasonable person should support initiative March for life, and choose life against death”.

The most dramatic event was a moment when the marchers were passing by the counter protest and two women counter protesters stood in front of the March, after which they were quickly attacked physically by the members of the march and arrested by the police. As a reaction 30 protesters stood in front of the police station for two hours, until painter Dunja Janković and musician Dunja Ercegović (Lovely Quinces) were released without any charges pressed against them. Dunja Ercegović stated that she reacted instinctively because she couldn’t just stand and whistled against pro-fascist tendencies in the society. Dunja Ercegović said that she came to the counter protest to defend her right to decide about her own body.

Two women protesters were exposed to violence from March security and police while the attackers from “March for life” that violently acted against them have not even been asked for their names of questioned whatsoever. This kind of police reaction is illustrative for current antidemocratic tendencies in Croatia. Media reported about incident against peaceful walk for life, and organizers of this March stated in their press release that these two women where evidently distraught, and possible alcoholised, which was absolutely not the case.

Protesters speakers included Bojana Genov from Women’s Network Croatia, Nataša Vajagić from the Centre for citizen initiative, Sanja Juras from Lesbian group Kontra, Sara Kekuš from the Initiative Refugees Welcome, Martina Horvat from the Platform 112, Alan Sorić from Centre for Civil Courage and Protagora, Mia Gonan from Zagreb Pride, trade union activist Jagoda Milidrag Šmid and actress activist Urša Raukar. The support letter from the initiatives of Doctors against conscience objections in medicine was read. Musical program was performed from drummers Drum 'n' bijes, Zdenka Kovačiček, Denis Katanec, U pol' 9 kod Sabe and Lovely Quinces. The protest was a follow-up on many feminist actions against attempts to stop the right on abortion in Croatia since 1991, and most recently action of Women’s Network of Croatia under the title „We do not want to go back to the illegal abortion!“ which was held on the 29th od December 2015, shortly after a new right-wing coalition government was formed.

See photos from the protest HERE.

Source: Obrani PRAVO NA IZBOR

May 20 2016

Abortion rates declined significantly across most developed regions between 1990 and 2014. However, during the same period, they remained largely unchanged in developing regions. The findings come from a new study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization. It found that between 1990 and 2014, the overall number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15–44 years old) in developed countries dropped from 46 to 27, while in developing countries, it changed little, from 39 to 37, a nonsignificant difference. The study’s findings appear in an article, “Abortion incidence between 1990 and 2014: global, regional, and subregional levels and trends,” by Gilda Sedgh et al., published in The Lancet.

When countries were grouped according to their abortion laws, the researchers found no significant difference in abortion rates for 2010–2014 between countries where abortion is legal and where it is restricted. In countries where the procedure was prohibited altogether or permitted only to save a woman’s life, the abortion rate was 37 per 1,000, and in countries where it was available on request, the abortion rate was 34 per 1,000.

Across regions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in abortion rate, from 88 in 1990-1994 to 42 in 2010-2014. Despite this decline there is a persistent gap in rates between Eastern and Western Europe (42 vs 18) likely reflecting lower use of effective contraception in Eastern Europe.

Source and more information at Guttmacher's webiste

May 06 2016

Women Deliver’s 4th Global Conference will be taking place on 16-19 May 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is going to be the largest gathering on girls’ and women’s health and rights in the last decade and one of the first major global conferences following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus of the conference will be on how to implement the SDGs so they matter most for girls and women, with a specific focus on health – in particular maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – and on gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment. The conference will bring together world leaders, advocates, policymakers, journalists, young people, researchers, and leaders of corporate companies and civil society to showcase what it means and how it works when girls and women become the focus of development efforts.

To learn more about the Women Deliver 2016 conference download the conference 2-pager here.

ASTRA Network invites to a panel discussion „Threats to Reproductive Health and Rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia” with speakrs from Poland, Romania, Macedonia and Armenia. The panel will be held on Monday, May 16th from 12 to 13.30 hrs at Bella Center, room 66/67J.

May 05 2016

Members of the Austrian Parliament, Members of the Parliament of Germany and Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom expressed their concerns in regard to the draft law introducing a total ban on abortion in Poland and refer to the estimated number of terminated pregnancies at around 80 000 per year, and perhaps as much as 200 000 including illegal procedures and “abortion tourism”. They also name the case of Romania under the ruling of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who contributed to the death of more than 9 000 women in years 1965 – 1989 by introducing severe restrictions to the law on abortion.

Members of Parliament from UK, Germany and Asutria call on the Marshall of the Polish Sejm to reject this anti-women initiative, abandon the plans to end state fudning of IVF and keep emergency contraception to be available over the counter.

May 04 2016

In order to find out, what attitude towards abortion prevails in Lithuania Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (FPSHA) carried out the anonymous online survey. 533 answers were collected. 71,9% of all respondents were young women (15-25 year olds), 21,6% were young adult women (26-35 year olds). 12,38% of all women who participated in the survey had an abortion, half of them (32 out of 66) were between 15 to 25 years old.


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